In an effort to highlight the people who are leading graduate universities across the nation, we at Watch The Yard reached out to Florida A&M University and did an interview with Rochard Moricette the Student Government Association president.
The position of SGA president of a is a highly respected role and there is a special pride that one takes. Moricette, who is majoring in Agriculture Business, is a current senior and a Spring 2018 initiate of Kappa Alpha Psi.
We interviewed Moricette, and talked to him about his position, goals, future and what it means to hold this type of leadership position in 2020.
Read the full interview below.
What is the biggest thing you’ve learned as an SGA president so far?
One of the most important lessons that I learned in this capacity is that a university is a business enterprise. Indeed, the organizational hierarchy of a university resembles that of a major corporation; from the Board of Trustees, University President, Vice Presidents and Deans to the major stakeholders in the alumni and student body. It is easy to focus on that business aspect of a university after many years in higher education. The different metrics that leadership must aim to achieve for the betterment of the institution can be daunting. However, it is the role of the Student Body President to be a voice and constant reminder that the most important stakeholders are the students. The leadership at Florida A&M University never forget this fact and constantly work with the best interest of the students in mind, that is something that I am truly grateful for.
What made you decide to attend Florida A&M University for undergrad?
I made the decision to start my post-secondary education journey at the illustrious Florida A&M University because of the ample opportunities it provided and unwavering commitment to academic excellence. Florida A&M University is a preeminent institution of higher education with national prominence and outstanding alumni base. It has a long history of providing education to African Americans when it was not possible to attain an education elsewhere. The university’s motto is “Excellence with Caring” and during my matriculation, the university has never deviated from this motto. With an enrollment of nearly 10,000 students, Florida A&M University prides itself in treating its students as people rather than number figures. That is part of the FAMU culture, a culture that is composed of unpretentious interactions and unmatched support from faculty and staff.
How has Florida A&M University molded you into the person you are today?
Founded on October 3, 1887, on the highest of seven hills in Tallahassee, Florida, Florida A&M University has an extensive history deeply rooted in black culture. The buildings that now house offices and classrooms were integral parts of the history of my people and the hardships that they endured so that my generation can pursue educational opportunities. As I matriculated through the last four years, I have developed a deeper appreciation for my history and realized that I stand on the shoulders of giants. Florida A&M University teaches its students how to be bold in the face of adversity and how to never settle for life’s double standards as a minority. In essence, my experience at Florida A&M University gave birth to a fresh perspective on life, now I can identify with robust characteristics of both a leader and a man.
What specific initiatives have you headed up this year and how do you think they will improve the school and surrounding community?
My campaign focused on many points, however, one of the more important points was to improve the advocacy efforts of the Student Government Association on behalf of the student body. I believe that as student leadership, we have an unfiltered seat at the table, and we have to take advantage of that. Whenever there was an opportunity to advocate for both my institution, I made sure to take advantage of that. I wanted to increase the student presence at the annual FAMU Day at the Capitol. This is an event where university stakeholders advocate to state legislators to support the university’s legislative priorities and budget requests. My administration reviewed the university’s Legislative Budget Request with the interested students and taught them how to incorporate their experiences with specific requests. As a result, we were able to have the most student participation on this day of advocacy in the last four years! Now future administrations have a blueprint to success for this staple event.
Another initiative that we were able to accomplish with the support for administration was establishing the Student Legal Services Department. This initiative could not have been made possible without the guidance and support of the department’s Coordinator, Associate Vice President of Student Affairs and the Student Senate. The office provides free legal services in an attempt to minimize legal problems and provide easy access to legal information for students. I believe that this will be incredibly beneficial for our students because often times students pay extensive fees for little payoff when dealing with legal concerns. It can be very scary and lead to poor financial decisions that can be detrimental to a student’s immediate future. With additional support from the university, I have no doubt that this service will be an incredible resource for students for years to come.
One of my biggest personal goals this year was to make establish a proper transition plan for the Student Body President and to build strong relationships with administrators. It is important to establish these relationships because the Student Body President is also a University Trustee and must utilize these relationships to accomplish their objectives for the year. Additionally, I wanted to make the position easily accessible for various reasons. I accomplished all of these goals throughout the year with much support for faculty and staff. Now, I am working on a virtual binder that compiles all of the actions I took and information I learned for my successor to utilize during their term. My goal was to leave the position and organization in a better state than when I assumed office, mission accomplished!
How is your school currently responding to the coronavirus and what is your SGA administration doing to help students?
The novel Coronavirus has had a tremendous impact on Florida A&M University, but university leadership is doing a great job of communicating changes with the student body and keeping the safety of our students as their top priority. In early March, the Florida State University System made the decision to move to remote instruction for two-weeks post Spring Break. This remote instruction period time period was extended to the end of the semester and then to the end summer semester. The State University System authorized the universities to provide refunds, rebates or credit to students who may no longer be able to use their residence halls and meal plans. On April 2, 2020, the Board of Trustees at Florida A&M University approved the funding procedures to do just that. The university has also implemented a special grading policy for this semester to accommodate our students. Additionally, the university launched an emergency aid campaign called FAMU CARES in support of the students who are impacted by the various changes caused by the virus. This campaign aims to provide laptops for students, support the food pantry on main campus for Rattlers who remain in Tallahassee, and reimburse student’s mileage cost for travel home. My administration has committed $12,000 in support of this effort. We are not sitting idle but consistently trying to support students through this trying time.
How is the coronavirus affecting SGA elections for next year?
Originally, the Spring elections were rescheduled to be held in the March rather than February due to conflicts from our governing documents and procedures. Student leadership understood that there was a risk that the aforementioned two-weeks could turn to the remainder of the semester and that’s exactly what happened. Therefore, the Office of Student Activities, Electoral Commission (Student Elections governing body) and the 49th Student Senate worked to implement an online election cycle. They revised the Student Body documents and issued a referendum to gage the student’s positions to move elections online. Through all of their hard work and endless efforts, we now have officially moved to online elections for the foreseeable future.
What does leadership mean to you?
My leadership experiences have shaped my definition of the word; thus, leadership is the ability to set a vision for a constituency group or an entity and implement a standard of excellence that each member must strive to uphold. The true measurement of a leader and their leadership skills lies in the impact they have had on the organization or entity during their tenure. A leader must be dependable and accountable because their constituency depends on them to come through in tough situations. There will be tough decisions to be made and a strong leader will not cower in the face of adversity but face it head on. Additionally, a leader must be willing to make incredible sacrifices for the betterment of the entity which they serve.
We now live in a digital world, what do you think schools need to do to represent themselves online in 2020?
In this day and age, social media representation is incredibly valuable. I believe that schools need to engage their audience more on social media platforms. For example, if the university has accomplished a great objective or has an incredible individual, that information needs to be shared that with the followers on the official social media accounts. Not only does this need to be shared, but it needs to be shared in a creative way through graphics, videos, and more. Additionally, schools have to invest more in their applications and online marketing resources. The average high schooler has access to some form of digital media, find a way to creatively access these digital platforms to get your message across to potential students.
Why do you think Watch The Yard is important to Black students and college culture?
I believe that this platform is essential to Black students and college culture because it exposes the nation to the value of a college education. This platform effectively utilizes social media to showcase different experiences and various opportunities that are available by pursuing a post-secondary education. Students who are in grade school and may be on the fence about what life holds for them upon graduating high school are able to peek beyond their current horizon. For example, when I was in grade school, my family did not have the financial ability travel much, consequently, my experiences growing up were solely in Broward County. By following platforms like this, not only was I able to see a whole new world, but I was able to see young people who looked like me capitalize on these opportunities. This gave me additional motivation to continue to work hard and make the most out of my education to make a better life for me and my loved ones.
What do you plan on doing after graduation?
After graduation this Spring, I plan on starting my professional career as a Companion Animal Pharmaceutical Sales Rep with Elanco Animal Health. I have had the opportunity to intern with Elanco in the last two years and I fell in love with the mission of the company, which is “Food and Companionship Enriching Life.” I want to gain valuable work experience before I return to school to pursue a Master of Business Administration degree.
We at Watch The Yard would like to commend Rochard Moricette for his work as the SGA president of Florida A&M University.